What is Liqueur?
Liqueurs are flavored and sweetened spirits having high alcoholic content. Liqueurs are served in small quantities as digestives at the end of the meal.
To produce liqueurs, the following main ingredients are necessary:
- Sweetening agents
- Flavoring agents
- Coloring agents
Production Process of Liqueurs
The steps in the production of the liqueur:
1. Extraction of Flavoring
The flavoring agent must be extracted from the natural substance which is used as an ingredient in the blending process.
2. Applying Pressure
By applying mechanical presses the oil is extracted from the ingredients. For example, Citrus peel.
The maceration process is used when soft and delicate fruits are used as flavoring agents in the preparation of liqueur. In this method, the flavoring agents are soaked in cold spirits for a long time to gain maximum flavor.
Flavor and color are extracted during this process. When the maceration is over, the liqueur is transferred and filtered.
This is maceration in a warm spirit maintained at a constant temperature for several days. This method extracts more flavor quickly than any other method.
The extracted essences or oils are steeped in the base spirit until it is well impregnated with flavor and then it is distilled under a vacuum to protect the delicate essences. This liquid is further purified by re-distillation to remove any impurities which would change the flavor.
Compounding is the process of blending the ingredients in strict sequence to produce the desired flavor.
Liqueurs must be allowed to rest. The finest liqueurs are matured in oak casks which assist in mellowing the liquid.
8. Sweetening and Coloring
A sweetening agent is added according to the style and sweetness required. Liqueurs are colored to harmonize with the flavor.
Any suspended matter in the liquid must be removed by fining. The fining process is similar to the fining of wine.
Spirit is added to the liqueur to bring it to the correct alcoholic strength, if necessary. All liqueurs are given a final filtration to ensure star-bright clarity before bottling.
What is the History of Liqueurs
If you saw the history of liqueurs, you can understand that Liqueurs were first produced in the Monasteries of Europe for medicinal purposes. Many of the herbs with medicinal properties were grown near the monasteries.
The medicinal properties of these herbs were extracted by steeping them in alcohol. In medieval Europe, the flavored liqueurs were applied to wounds and were often drunk in small quantities for curing colds and fevers. Some were sweetened to make them tastier.
These were regarded as the protection against infection and plague, but many pharmacists conflicted with the religious laws because of the claims they made for their potions.
In the 15th century, the elixir of the monks at Fécamp was known as a preventive against malaria. The dark red liqueur made from dijon black currants was considered to cure physical diseases, and the bitter wormwood liqueur of Marseilles was used as medicine for stress until 1915 when the government banned its production.
Some of the early liqueurs were made to disguise poor-quality spirits. Many households had their own concoction, made from garden herbs and local spirits until the 19th century.
Today there are many distillers who make liqueurs of different flavors and colors. Some liqueurs are generic and others are proprietary. Generic liqueurs can be made by anyone.
The proprietary liqueur is made by a single distiller who owns the right to make the liqueur of that name.
Grand Marnier, Cointreau, Kahlúa, and Chartreuse are some examples of proprietary liqueurs.